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Semi-Retirement for the Under Twenties: Part 4

Full-time Careers Leave no Time for Your Own Creative Work

If you have a full-time career you do not have the time, or the energy, to devote to finding pleasure from creative ideas. Question people you know who have full-time career jobs, about how they spend their hard-earned money and their spare time. We are not talking about hobbies: this pleasure is not found in occasional games of golf, or going to gigs at the weekend, or mini breaks in Barcelona. These are interludes between long periods of work. The answer is that careerists do not have the time, or the energy. Each week they spend thirty-seven hours plus working, many more getting ready for and travelling to and from work, and after these deductions there is not enough time or energy left for discovering this pleasure.

But you say: perhaps this is only true when you start a career, when you have a more junior position. I won’t be on the lower rungs of my career forever. I’ll work hard for a while, achieve promotion, leave the more stressful parts of the job to those now working for me and with my new, generous salary have the money to indulge in the things in which I’m genuinely interested.

You may then have the money, but you will not have the time. A well-paid career demands your whole life. Do you think it is easy earning fifty, sixty, one hundred thousand pounds a year? You will be expected to work long hours, many more than is stated in the contract you sign. If you are rewarded with that much money you will not be expected to have ambitions or interests outside of your work: if your superiors suspect that your out-of-work activities are in any way affect your in-work efficiency you will be passed over for promotion and better pay, and promotion and better pay are your objectives in this career job. A friend, who worked in the personnel department of an investment bank, read on an employee’s file this advisement against promotion: ‘Puts his family before his career.’ Do you want to work for organisations with this ordering of priorities?

Nor it seems, even with a larger salary, is it easy to save a portion of each monthly paycheque, in order that you can someday leave to spend this lump sum on your genuine capabilities. Two friends I remember from university: one went to work in the City on a huge salary, said he was going to do the job for a few years, save some money and then train to be a PE teacher; the other went to work as an energy trader, said he was going to work for a few years, then use the money to set up an adventure camp for teenagers in France. Both still work in the same professions. And these are people who started on good wages.

Working is an expensive business. Most people spend all the money that they earn: if your colleagues at your advertising sales job tend to socialise in expensive restaurants and bars, are you never going to join them because you are saving money? You need to show a willingness to be part of the company team if you are going to carry on earning all that money that you want to save. How much money you spend, and therefore how much you save, depends as much on your peers as on yourself. Are you really going to turn down joining in with all those costly activities in the years that you are saving? More than this, your career job slowly turns you into a different person. You think about your long-term plan less and less often, and when you do it appears less and less realistic as part of the life you now lead.

You do not need to save money from a career salary in order to pursue the ideas that use your true capabilities. You can start pursing them now.

But everyone has to eat. What kind of work should you do to earn money for rent and food?

next: Part 5 – The Work You Do For Money Should Be Part-time